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1. Fledgling
2. Kindred
3. Seed to Harvest
4. Dawn (Xenogenesis, Bk. 1)
5. Wild Seed
6. Mind of My Mind
7. Parable of the Sower
8. Bloodchild and Other Stories:
9. Parable of the Talents
10. Lilith's Brood
11. Imago (Book Three of the Xenogenesis
12. Changing Bodies in the Fiction
13. Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis,
14. Clay's Ark
15. Survivor
16. Conversations with Octavia Butler
17. Octavia E. Butler: 'Xenogenesis'
18. Kindred [KINDRED ANNIV/E 25/E]
19. Xenogenesis Dawn Adulthood Rites
20. Patternmaster

1. Fledgling
by Octavia E. Butler
Paperback: 320 Pages (2007-01-02)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$7.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446696161
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Octavia E. Butler is one of the finest voices in fiction--period. . . . A master storyteller, Butler casts an unflinching eye on racism, sexism, poverty, and ignorance and lets the reader see the terror and beauty of human nature.-"The Washington Post Book World "Readers familiar with . . . "Parable of the Sower and "Bloodchild will recall that [Butler] never asks easy questions or settles for easy answers."-Gerald Jonas in "The New York Times "Fledgling, Octavia Butler's first new novel in seven years, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly unhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted-and still wants-to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. "Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of "otherness" and questions what it means to be truly human. Octavia E. Butler is the author of 11 novels, including "Kindred, "Dawn, and "Parable of the Sower. Recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and numerous other literary awards, she has been acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations that range from the distant past to the far future. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (86)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fledgling Vampire Strives to Live!
Some years ago I've read for the first time a book from Ms Butler (1947-2006). I was captivated by her amazing imagination and quality of her prose and became instantly a fan of the author. This first impression was corroborated as I read more and more of her writings.
Unfortunately for us, her fans, Ms. Butler has recently passed leaving the "Parable" trilogy unfinished and I'm sure many delightful stories unwritten.

She was a highly talented writer and Sci-Fi Hugo and Nebula awards winner.
All her books showed a rich mixture of imagination, complex and interesting characters and conflictive situations to test their mettle.

Here the reader is presented with Octavia's last novel.

"Fledgling" is a typically Butler's product.
She explores in depth, in a relatively short text, the intricacies of symbiosis between human and alien specie.
This subject was already researched by Octavia in her amazing trilogy "Xenogenesis". Both stories refer to symbiosis and how this affects human mind producing very different attitudes from rejection to uncensored adhesion. This time she focuses in the alien subject.

In the novel the author recreates successfully vampires' myth starting with a young one who has lost all her memories and should explore the world to discover who she is and what she is.

This book is very representative of Ms. Butler's universes. Do not miss it!

Reviewed by Max Yofre.

1-0 out of 5 stars so bad I gave up after 75 pages
A young girl wakes up with no memory but an aversion to sunlight and powerful thirst for blood. A formulaic mystery ensues as she attempts to learn the rules of her "condition" and assemble her past...

I have to really hate something to stop reading it or give it 1 star. "Fledgling" is just such a work. A friend of mine whose opinion I usually value highly recommended this; I can only guess she was off her meds when she read it. Likewise, the number of 4 and 5-star reviews bewilders me. This is easily one of the worst things I've read in a long while. The plot is hum-drum (at least as much as I got through in 75 pages) and the writing style is nothing but amateurish. *Maybe* the story gets better, but I can safely assume the prose won't. I don't mind a boring story if it is well written--and vice versa--but this has nothing going for it.

This book comes across as a juvenile rough draft. The writing style is starchy and stilted, especially in terms of dialogue. There are enough typos--things like missing spaces between sentences that a simple spell-check would have caught--that I wonder if this even went before an editor.

I've never read Butler before, so I don't know how this compares to her other works; since she's an established, award-winning author, I can only hope for her fans' sake that Fledgling was an off-day. Another reviewer mentioned that Butler wrote this as "a lark." It shows. This is un-polished, un-professional, and un-interesting.

Obviously, with the high volume of glowing reviews, a lot of people liked it. I'm truly at a loss to understand why, except to guess that Butler fans must have a very high threshold for low performance. If you do read this, you have at least been warned what to expect.

1-0 out of 5 stars Um, no thanks
I like vampires. The genre is not without its flaws, however, one of the most glaring being its lack of inclusion. Vampires are always white - literally and racially. So it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to Octavia Butler's "Fledgling." I had heard many great things about Butler and her themes of race, gender, community, and otherness, and I was eager to see what she would do with the vampire myth.

Instead . . . hooo boy, where to begin?

A ten-year-old black girl with amnesia wakes up in a forest near a collection of burned-out ruins. She has horrific burns and gunshot injuries, which means she should be dead. Although she has no memory it is obvious she is not human: she chases down and kills animals, consuming their raw flesh. When she finally encounters a human being, she drinks his blood. He immediately recognizes her as a vampire, although he also observes that she doesn't remotely fit the image he had had of vampires. It turns out, however, that what the world thinks of as "vampires" is actually a second intelligent race that has evolved alongside humanity, living in secret but surfacing only enough to contribute to the legends found in various human cultures of demonic undead entities who feast on the blood of the living.

Despite the intriguing premise, however, the whole thing fell flat. To begin with, Butler's prose failed to impress me, especially coming from such a renown author who's won both the Hugo and Nebula awards. Her writing was very bare-bones, but not as though she had made the stylistic choice of minimalism. Instead, it just felt amateurish, like someone who had an idea for a story but didn't know how to add in all those extras that make stories great: description, shading, subtlety, word play, thoughtful ruminations, flights of poetic fancy. It's hard to explain, though, because Butler is technically proficient and avoids a lot of the more obvious blunders made by other writers, such as Stephenie Meyer's thesaurus abuse. (If anything, Butler's prose was all the better for that.)

The narrative also didn't flow well. Like "Twilight," it felt like the whole book was written in about two days with no outline. There was no mystery in regard to who killed Shori's family - we find out too quickly and too easily, without any build-up or other development. From there it's just stagnant. We know who the guilty party is. What else is there to do?

But there was one issue which, above all, really bothered the heck outta me. More accurately: it royally *squicked me out.* Yes, I know Shori is really 53, not 10, but . . . she has sex, multiple times, with a hairy guy in his 20s. Then she meets another guy the same age, who tells her that he was attracted to her the minute he saw her. They do not have sex but it is very highly strongly implied that they soon WILL.

Oh no. No no no no.

Even worse is that Shori's memory loss only emphasizes her childlike qualities. (Before she recovers her name, Hairy Guy even calls her Renee because it means "reborn.") And then the reader is treated to several pages of strongly implied lesbianism between Shori and several adult women. Again, no, just . . . no.

Sorry folks. I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy this one. "Fledgling" is certainly a *fast* read that took me only a day and a half, so I guess that's something in its favor. But, alas.

5-0 out of 5 stars Vampire not so bad
I was pleasantly surprised by this book.It was a bookclub read and I wasn't excited about it because it deals with vampires and I have not hopped on that band wagon just yet.But this was an excellent read.I didn't see the characters as vampires but as actual people trying to save their own kind.This was the first book by Octavia E. Butler that I've read and I'm very excited to read more of her work.

5-0 out of 5 stars New Vampire Twist!
I really liked this book! The unique take on the vampire myth was original and enjoyable (though there were some uncomfortable parts...) It was exciting, and I am very disappointed to learn that this was Butler's last book, as I would have enjoyed a sequel! I really enjoyed this much more than I expected to, really. The characters were strong and sympathetic and the added theme of racism worked well and added a social layer that is missing from most vampire tales. I am curious to learn more about her earlier books! ... Read more

2. Kindred
by Octavia E. Butler
Hardcover: 264 Pages (2008-12-28)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$15.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0807083100
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Back in hardcover for the first time in over 25 years with a handsome new cover
... Read more

Customer Reviews (210)

5-0 out of 5 stars outstanding!!!!
Kindred simply blew me away from the very 1st page to the ending..felt so much pain to have picture and endure what african americans had to go through during slavery, so well written my 1st reading by Ms Butler but not my last..breathtaking

5-0 out of 5 stars Kindred touched my soul...
Kindred is the first book I've read in Octavia E. Butler's long line work books. But I can tell you it won't be my last. Kindred touched me in a way few other books have. It was thoughtful and engrossing. I found myself not wanting to put it down. I read it in 3 days, inspite of my work schedule.

Dana and Rufus as well as the others captivated me. They became people that I felt I knew. I found myself transported right along with Dana. As I neared the end of the book, turning the last few pages bought a tear to my eye. I really just didn't want it to be over. It was like saying goodbye to old friends.

You will love this book! I did.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Kindred Caper
Had me on the edge of my seat while providing a poignantly painful feel for the South in the 1800s.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great book
Great story line. Loved the "Sci-Fi" aspect of the story. Wish it would've eneded differently though. Too many unanswered questions.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kindred
my daughter needed this book for a summer project. The book came quickly and it was what she needed. ... Read more

3. Seed to Harvest
by Octavia E. Butler
Paperback: 784 Pages (2007-01-05)
list price: US$18.99 -- used & new: US$7.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002YNS0Y4
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Seed to Harvest
Great way to keep all "Pattermaster" series in one book compilation. An essential travel item.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Collection
Octavia E. Butler was one of the premier "science-fiction" writers of our time. Her untimely death has left a gap in the genre that cannot be filled by anyone else, especially not obvious copycats like Due. This book contains the entire Patternmaster series, including my personal favorite Clay's Ark. Even if you have the individual books, and I do, this volume is a wonderful compilation of her works. I recommend this work to Butler fans.

5-0 out of 5 stars outstanding tetralogy on accelerated human evolution over 1,000 years
I can say without hesitation that this is one of the best hard sci-fi series that I have ever read.The concepts are breathtakingly ambitious - the birth of two new species of humans burst over 1,000 years - with wonderfully complex and realistic characters.I have read each of these novels separately several times, with great enjoyment, but this is the first time I have read them in sequence.The quartet is enthralling and, as with the best sci-fi, believable because scientifically plausible.

The first novel is perhaps my favorite.Doro, a seemingly immortal vampire-like mutant who is attempting to breed a race like himself, senses another powerful mutant (Anyanwu).Her follows her "scent" and compels her to accompany him, for breeding purposes.The result is a battle of wills like none that I have ever encountered in fiction:Doro is a cold and implacable killer, but Anyanwu is a healer that respects life.Over the course of over 300 years, they fight, through the lives of Doro's people, her escape and recapture, to a compromise.It is as exquisite as it is bizarre, full of historical imagery and unusual concepts.

In the second novel, Doro in a sense achieves his goal, but the result is not at all what he expected.The surviving mutants exhibit a range of powerful abilities, growing from the destructive side effects of Doro's many semi-failed experiments.There is a new battle of wills, as a new human species emerges.There is also the emergence of a new kind of social organization, a dependency between the two human species.Again, fascinating ideas and characters that evolve with great realism in fantastic situations.It takes place more of less in the present.

Taking place somewhere in the near future, the third novel introduces something unexpected, from space.Once again, a new species of symbionts is born, radically at odds with the rest of humanity.While I felt that this novel was far weaker, it is crucial to the series and full of surprises.

The final novel pulls it all together.Hundreds of years in the future, the old societal order of man has entirely crumbled, much of it literally into dust.As new abilities enabled some to gain socio-political power, the old mechanized culture has essentially vanished.There are three species of human:two are integrated and mutually dependent, the third represents an almost alien enemies, which are dangerously contagious and super-humanly agile.They exist is an unstable equilibrium.The locus of the plot is a struggle for power in one of the groups, whose social organization and super-abilities are slowly revealed.A new leader must take over, but the competitors - full brothers - could not be more different:one is without question the more powerful, the other more subtle and with a different mix of abilities.The climax, during an extremely dangerous trek with war brought by the other species, is wonderfully frightening.Characters are at the heart of this novel, though human potential is also a theme.It is truly wonderful and fascinating.

Warmly recommended.Re-reading these together is a rare treat, in which the reader is transported to an unimaginable future and danger and possibility.It is unlike anything I have ever read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Two great and two mediocre Butler novels
"Wild Seed" (1980) is one of two books which established Octavia Butler as a first-rank SF writer (the other is "Kindred", published about the same time). The plot is simple enough. One of the major characters, Doro, is a wild talent. When his body dies, he eats the spirit of someone nearby and takes over his body. He doesn't even have to wait for death - he can make the transfer any time he chooses, and the old body immediately dies. Over the years he's found that some kills are more satisfying than others, and he's since then been attempting to breed a better race of food. 3,700 years later, he has little colonies of his people scattered all over the world. The best of them are wild talents of one type or another, the worst are dangerous psychotics. Doro breeds and weeds, and looks after his people.

The "Wild Seed" of the title is Anyanwu, a healer and shape changer who has watched over her children and descendants for 300 years. When Doro finds her, he induces/seduces/forces her into his breeding program. The book is the story of the first 150 years of their relationship. It's not easy on either of them, and neither of them will ever be quite the same.

With this book, Butler created two of the most interesting and fully conceived characters of her career. Unlike so many other of her later books, Butler doesn't grind any axes nor attempt any social commentary. It's the story of two people, both of whom are effectively immortal and for the first time are attempting to deal with someone else who isn't ephemeral. It asks interesting questions about the nature of parenthood, love, authority and responsibilities without ever going for simplistic or shallow answers. Ultimately they both pay a price for finding the other, and neither emerges unscathed.

Strongly recommended. And yes, it's still in print nearly 30 years later.

Semi-trivia comment: if you've read "Mind of My Mind", one of Butler's earlier novels, the Emma Anyanwu mentioned near the end is the same Anyanwu. She was there as backstory to Doro's more prominent role in "Mind", and that backstory eventually nagged at Butler enough that she wrote "Wild Seed." This isn't to say you should go get "Mind of My Mind", which was at best a mediocre novel. But if you're interested, "Wild Seed, "Mind of My Mind", "Patternmaster" and "Clay's Ark" are now available in this omnibus edition "Seed To Harvest." Given that "Clay's Ark" is also a fine novel, it's worth spending the couple of extra bucks and buying the omnibus. Just don't expect much from "Patternmaster" or "Mind of My Mind." To my point of view, one should read "Seed" and "Ark" and then pretty much ignore the other two.

5-0 out of 5 stars seed to harvest
This is a wonderful compilation, of some very thought-provoking novels written by the only Africa American female sci-fi Author. ... Read more

4. Dawn (Xenogenesis, Bk. 1)
by Octavia E. Butler
Mass Market Paperback: 256 Pages (1997-04-01)
list price: US$17.99 -- used & new: US$7.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446603775
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Known for her African-American feminist perspective, the author presents the first installment of a trilogy exploring the death of the earth as we know it and the advent of interbreeding between humans and extraterrestrials. Reissue.Amazon.com Review
In a world devastated by nuclear war with humanity on the edgeof extinction, aliens finally make contact. They rescue those humansthey can, keeping most survivors in suspended animation while thealiens begin the slow process of rehabilitating the planet. WhenLilith Iyapo is "awakened," she finds that she has beenchosen to revive her fellow humans in small groups by first preparingthem to meet the utterly terrifying aliens, then training them tosurvive on the wilderness that the planet has become. But the alienscannot help humanity without altering it forever.Bonded to thealiens in ways no human has ever known, Lilith tries to fight themeven as her own species comes to fear and loathe her. A stunning storyof invasion and alien contact by one of science fiction's finestwriters. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (59)

1-0 out of 5 stars More of Butler's sensualist preoccupation
Butler could write, no doubt about it, and it's a shame she died so young. Who knows what else she might have done? I've read a half dozen of her books and this is one of the few that qualifies as science fiction. Yet it also matches the sensualist preoccupation of many of the others. Although this time it's hard to imagine a sexual liaison with creatures that look and feel like shuffling collections of earthworms. I gave this a one-star not for quality but because the idea of a planet-devastating nuclear exchange between the US and Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union (the hook that lets the aliens take over) was trite, as well as unbelievable. And, then, the story was so strange, compelling at times but, in the end, too creepy for me to want to go on to the next in the series.

5-0 out of 5 stars too few words written before she passed
Nothing to add here. the woman was a genius and, even now, not enough people know her work. those of us who do, who were privileged enough to have been in on the "secret' of Ms Butler, feel her loss acutely.

So buy her books, tell your friends to buy her books and share the wealth. She was Great and her works are Mighty.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dawn
The main character in this book is Lilith. She is such a deep character, you find yourself wishing that you could meet her in person. This story makes a person think about what it would be like if aliens really took earth over; although the part about our body in suspension inside a tree-like organism was very difficult to imagine. Lilith and the things that happen to her touch a deep-rooted fear- "what if" there are aliens and if so, what would they do with us? Unfortunately, the idea represented here, that human will turn the earth into some place that is unlivable is too easy to imagine. The way that Ms. Butler writes is wonderful; what a joy that is!

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Series Opener
Lilith is a young woman saved by an alien race known as the Oankali after the superpowers of the time (US/USSR)nuked the world. The Oankali mix their genes with those of other races to evolve, and they have decided that what is left of humanity should be used for this purpose.Lilith is used by the Oankali as a messenger, an ambassador of sorts, to introduce other rescued humans to the Oankali and share the Oankali's intentions for the remainder of mankind.

This book addresses many moral complexities of man.Butler uses the setting of her novel to focus on issues of human sexuality (the ooloi and manner of Oankali reproduction), the "human conflict" (in spite of their plight, the humans still exhibit hierarchical behavior when they should be uniting), and the self-destructive nature of man (a man-made war destroys civilation and mankind continues on a smaller-scale self-destructive path). On the surface, Dawn is a book about the rebirth of Earth and the meeting between humans and aliens after an apocalyptic event. Beneath the surface, Butler addresses deeper issues about mankind. Although this book is wonderfully written and thoroughly entertaining, I had a couple of issues with it:
1. Lilith gave in too easily in some areas.After reading it, I could not understand her easy acceptance of Nikanj - even though he was a child. Butler adequately explains it, but her response, given the circumstances, does not feel authentic.
2. Lilith could have done more to let the other humans know where she stood on the issues. Her position was clear, but only in her thoughts. It seemed that she would have done more to let those close to her know what she believe and wanted.
3. Several editing errors were somewhat distracting.

Overall, the book was well worth the read and I recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars SF Classic, apocalypse / slavery / gender themes
I'm glad I finally got around to sampling Octavia Butler's SF.She's top-notch, and I only wish I'd found her sooner."Dawn" is a superior treatment of a classic SF theme that projects troubling here-and-now events into a crescendo of violence that results in the destruction of humanity.This sets the stage for a scenario that posits deliverance at the price of universal slavery to an alien race; a deliverance that will end in extinction as complete as, and far more spiritually devastating than, that already accomplished by fulfillment of the alleged human genetic imperative to self-destruct.

Butler handles this weighty theme with deftness and indirection.The reality of Ounkali domination of every aspect of human life, right down to the neural and cellular level, is masked by the emotional allure of apparently reciprocal inter-species attachments and obligations, and further finessed by the human genetic "sin" of hierarchicalism as manifest in the more than occasional cussedness and irrationality of the humans selected for awakening.

The Ounkali's manipulative genius is such that de facto human enslavement is staged as a benefit of such great value that it cannot be resented - at least not by the principal character, Lilith, whose sense of justice (she and every other human would be dead without alien intervention, after all) is reinforced by the careful indoctrination / conditioning of this woman selected for her unique combination of genetic and experiential characteristics.

I'm deeply impressed with Butler's handling of a theme of such sensitivity and import to American culture without beating us over the head with it.She makes her point about slavery with scarcely a mention of the word itself.It gives us the opportunity to read between the lines, and to think - something we are all genetically capable of, but not necessarily inclined to do. ... Read more

5. Wild Seed
by Octavia E. Butler
Paperback: 320 Pages (2001-04-01)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$17.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446676977
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Doro is an entity who changes bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflex -- or design. He fears no one -- until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who can absorb bullets and heal with a kiss...and savage anyone who threatens those she loves. She fears no one -- until she meets Doro. From African jungles to the colonies of America, Doro and Anyanwu weave together a pattern of destiny that not even immortals can imagine. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (80)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wild Seed: A fresh take on ages-old struggles.
Wild Seed is not the first novel I've read by Octavia E. Butler, but it is the earliest. And it is a joy and a comfort to discover that she was as probing and engaging a writer back then as she is now. On the surface Wild Seed is about power and control. But beneath the surface, it's about so much more. And like all great science fiction, it sheds a bright light on our world now.

Imagine the only two immortals on the planet locked in an inextricable relationship of hatred and need. In Wild Seed, Butler writes about race and gender and class with a fresh voice, asking: Can there be a marriage among enemies; a peace among opposites? Can the powerless ever be safe from the powerful?

On one level, Wild Seed reads like a travelogue across land and time. It takes place in a simpler and more superstitious time, though we don't see much of the world as it was in the story. Rather we hear about it more, through the eyes and struggles of the culture that no one but they know exists. Or the two founders--the mother and father of the culture (as it were)--Doro and Anyanwu.

Together they try to breed a race of witches and wizards (for lack of better words), to perpetuate their rapidly dwindling kind. But breeding is a tricky science, especially when the two conducting the mission are at odds on its every aspect. For example, one seeks stable progeny to build a family, a community; the other seeks it like a predator, seeking the meat he most needs to feed on.

Anyanwu is a healer, and the only match for Doro, the most frightening kind of all-powerful being--the body-snatching kind. He cannot be killed, and he is the only one of his kind. So he hops from body to body, recklessly mixing and matching people like samples in a petri dish, then consuming them like so much prey. In Anyanwu, Doro sees a once-in-a-lifetime chance (an even bigger deal for an immortal) to build his civilization from Anyanwu's wild seed. And in Doro, Anyanwu sees her captor, her extorter. And truly, obeying Doro is the only way Anyanwu has to stay alive and keep her children safe. But obeying him comes with a price, as his commands are so heartless and repugnant.

Besides depicting a viperous coil of a moral crisis, what also makes Wild Seed such a thrilling read is how rich and complex Butler's characters are. So tightly wound themselves they spring to life off the page One stylistic element I particularly loved, in fact, was how the author shifted back and forth between Doro's point-of-view and Anyanwu's from scene to scene--always keeping the action moving forward, and always keeping both the hero's (or in this case heroine's) and anti-hero's conflicts present.

The hardest thing for an author to write, if you ask me, is the ending. And even though I saw where the story was taking me from somewhat early on, it didn't take one iota of enjoyment away from the experience. I still found myself surprised. And I laid down the novel happy that I read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Two Long-lived Beings Crisscross their Ways.
Some years ago I've read this book from Ms Butler. I was captivated by her amazing imagination and quality of her prose and became instantly a fan of the author. This first impression was corroborated as I read more of her writings.
Unfortunately for us, her fans, Ms. Butler has recently passed leaving the "Parable" trilogy unfinished and I'm sure many delightful stories unwritten.

She was a highly talented writer and won Sci-Fi Hugo and Nebula awards.
All her books showed a rich mixture of imagination, interesting multifaceted characters and conflictive situations to test their mettle.

"Wild Seed" is a complex story about Doro and Anyanwu, two extraordinary beings, their encounter and relationship expanding over three centuries.
I refuse to say Doro is a male, he may acquire any physical nature, so I think the character as a Self, and each reader may assign he/she/it any attribution. This trait only, is enough to arouse many questions and situations, other writers may stick only to the rich action line. Octavia didn't, she dig deep into each character, giving them soul and flesh, going into what they feel, their ethical (or unethical) considerations, their whole conception of life, their struggles for power and love.
All this blended in an inspired story full of action.

This is very commendable book for sci-fi buffs and general public too.

Reviewed by Max Yofre

5-0 out of 5 stars Wild Seed
Wild Seed is so Good!! The two leading players in this story, Doro and Anyanwu, are such deep characters-the reader is fully drawn into their story. Doro is very arrogant but has met his match in Anyanwu. This point is proved through out the entire story. Anyanwu is a strong woman and regardless of her circumstances, she stays strong and cannot be totaly mastered by Doro. At the end, Doro learns a lesson that all arrogant people should learn; we all need Someone who loves us.

1-0 out of 5 stars Major Let Down!
'Wild Seed' seemed interesting from its description and on searching for reviews I found almost entirely praise...

On reading it however I was left uninspired and rather bored and found myself endlessly waiting for it to get to the "good bit". The author seemed to drag out everything with repetitive dialogue which left very little room for any excitement (unless you find incest exciting of course). Far from being a good sci-fi or fantasy book, Wild Seed is more of a dull drama, with the supernatural powers thrown in as a weak anchor to tie the plot together.

5-0 out of 5 stars A super-human battle between inhuman power and human freedom
"Wild Seed" is the first in the Patternist series, yet the third to have been published (not including the out-of-print "Survivor," which Butler effectively disowned). As a result, for some readers it will be a prequel of sorts, for others it will serve as the introduction to the series. This dual audience presents the author with a difficult task: half her readers know where the story is going and this book fills in the pasts of already-familiar characters; for the other half (myself included), the characters are strangers and there's an aura of mystery: it's not quite clear where this bizarre story is going.

Butler succeeds for both audiences, probably as well as any sci-fi author can hope to, and along the way she enriches her plot with African legends, racial subtexts, and a love-hate relationship that makes Scarlett and Rhett seem like starry-eyed romantics. Near the end of the seventeenth century (300 years before the next book in the series), Anyanwu, a shape-shifting healer who can transform herself into any human or animal form, serves as guardian for the extended family she has built in Africa over the course of several hundred years. Her tranquility and her people are threatened, however, by the 4,000-year-old Doro, a vampiric entity who survives by displacing his consciousness from one living human body to another, blithely leaving a path of corpses in his wake.

For millennia, Doro has single-mindedly pursued one goal: to crossbreed his human victims in order to create a master species with super-human powers. The problem is that many of his experiments self-destruct during transition, a form of puberty amplified to violent extremes (as if adolescence weren't painful enough). Anyanwu presents Doro with an altogether different problem: a woman who is nearly as powerful as he (and often cleverer), who is reluctant about cooperating with Doro's genetic project, and who challenges his stoic amorality. At times Doro is like an abusive spouse, at other times he resembles the mythic Ogbanje familiar to readers of Achebe's "Things Fall Apart"--an evil spirit that keeps returning in different forms and haunting Anyanwu's family. The unlikely couple's adventures take the two immortals from the slave-catchers of Africa to the slave-owners of America, where they form an uneasy alliance after a series of magical and horrific events.

Among the novel's many cultural and political themes, the most compelling is the ongoing struggle, both racial and sexual, between power and freedom: between Doro's hunger to use his "offspring" as a means to create an empire and Anyanwu's desire to protect her family from American slavery and from Doro's despotism. In a sense, it's an uneven match: to save herself and her family from a Heathcliff-like monster that someday soon "would not feel anything at all that was human," Anyanwu "had given in to him again and again. Habits were hard to break. The habit of living, the habit of fear ... even the habit of love." But eventually Anyanwu realizes that she has control of the most potent weapon of all: the tiny part of Doro that is still human. ... Read more

6. Mind of My Mind
by Octavia E. Butler
Mass Market Paperback: 224 Pages (1994-08-01)
list price: US$18.99 -- used & new: US$16.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446361887
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A young ghetto telepath launches a psychic struggle against the four-thousand-year-old immortal who has been her father, lover, master, and creator to free her fellow telepaths. Reprint. PW. K. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mind Blowin
Ms. Butler is an awesome writer and her talents will be truly missed.Mind of My Mind is outstanding literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mind of my mind
Butler is a wonderful writer. The book is worth reading and will make you hungry for more! This book is part of a series, it come after Wild Seed (also a terrific book). However, you do not need to read these books in order, they can stand alone and yes, the stories are that good.
Its rare today to find a book that totally takes you away to another place-and a reality that does not exist. I highly recommend all of Octavia Butler's books.

5-0 out of 5 stars The web they weave: Butler's suburban superhuman antiheroes
For four thousand years, the immortal and amoral Doro has traveled parasitically from human body to human body, killing the owner, assuming the biological form, and discarding the "husk" when he feels the urge to move on to new psychic meat. Throughout those millennia, he's been searching for descendants with any hint of paranormal power (telepathy, shapeshifting, etc.), bringing each through a painfully concentrated adolescence that gives birth to their superpowers, and forcing them to breed (and interbreed) with an eye to creating a new species of superhumans. At the outset of this novel, he has succeeded all too well: his daughter Mary passes through her puberty and emerges as the center of a telepathic web that connects all Doro's experiments (and that excludes Doro himself) and pulls them magnetically to her home in Los Angeles.

The result is an odd mashup of John Updike and Alan Moore: a suburban community of high-strung mutants drawn together by an initially unwilling leader and settling into malleable family arrangements--with their intrigued, brash, and somewhat concerned creator hovering around the edges and trying to maintain control over the fruits of his labor. To say that this novel is bizarre only hints at its unexpectedness and brutality; while readers will find themselves rooting for Mary, they will be unsettled by the violence and force she sometimes adopts to get her way, as she necessarily assumes the role of a benevolent dictator undergoing intensive on-the-job training. Mary and her community grow in strength (seemingly unnoticed by their oblivious "normal" neighbors), and a confrontation between Doro and his mutant offspring becomes inevitable.

Although, chronologically, this novel is a continuation of "Wild Seed" (which was actually published afterwards), it stands alone as a powerful clash-of-the-titans story pitching a young upstart against a godlike creator/destroyer. What's more subtle than the epic quality of this confrontation is the sociological subtext of Butler's novels; without being doctrinaire, her novels deal with racial and sexual politics, slavery and power, morality and taboo. In spite of their superpowers, the characters who populate "Mind of My Mind" have all-too-human failings and virtues, and Butler's ability to perceive and dissect the extremes of human behavior is what sets her fiction above the rest.

5-0 out of 5 stars GREAT READ


4-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I forgot how much I enjoyed Butler's work. I found this book for sale at the used bookstore and snapped it up. W/O being cliche, I found she wrote the inner talk of the characters' well.

This book had me thinking about the storyline. And, I enjoyed the way she commented on race and class issues without wagging her finger at the reader. She is by far one of the best sci-fi writers. I don't know why I took a hiatus from her work, but I'll definitely read some of her newer stuff and go back and re-read the others. ... Read more

7. Parable of the Sower
by Octavia E. Butler
Paperback: 352 Pages (2000-01-01)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$9.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0029LHX3U
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Octavia E. Butler, the grande dame of science fiction, writes extraordinary, inspirational stories of ordinary people. Parable of the Sower is a hopeful tale set in a dystopian future United States of walled cities, disease, fires, and madness. Lauren Olamina is an 18-year-old woman with hyperempathy syndrome--if she sees another in pain, she feels their pain as acutely as if it were real. When her relatively safe neighborhood enclave is inevitably destroyed, along with her family and dreams for the future, Lauren grabs a backpack full of supplies and begins a journey north. Along the way, she recruits fellow refugees to her embryonic faith, Earthseed, the prime tenet of which is that "God is change." This is a great book--simple and elegant, with enough message to make you think, but not so much that you feel preached to.Amazon.com Review
Octavia E. Butler, the grande dame of science fiction, writesextraordinary, inspirational stories of ordinary people. Parable of theSower is a hopeful tale set in a dystopian future United States ofwalled cities, disease, fires, and madness. Lauren Olamina is an 18-year-old woman with hyperempathy syndrome--if she sees another in pain, shefeels their pain as acutely as if it were real. When her relatively safeneighborhood enclave is inevitably destroyed, along with her family anddreams for the future, Lauren grabs a backpack full of supplies and beginsa journey north. Along the way, she recruits fellow refugees to herembryonic faith, Earthseed, the prime tenet of which is that "God ischange." This is a great book--simple and elegant, with enough message tomake you think, but not so much that you feel preached to. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (119)

1-0 out of 5 stars I cannot take it seriously
In the 2020s, global warming has created an ecological disaster, and post-peak oil resource shortage threw most of the United States into Third World-like poverty. California is a very dangerous place to live in, far more so than even modern-day Brazilian favelas; in modern-day Rio de Janeiro, the homicide rate is 40 per 100,000, but through this novel, so many people are killed that I am surprised that the population of California still numbers in the millions. A teenage African American girl, the daughter of a college professor who is also a Baptist minister, grows up in a gated compound in the suburbs of L.A. Her brother becomes a drug dealer and is murdered, then her father is apparently kidnapped and murdered, then thieves and arsonists break into the compound, burn it and kill most of its residents. The main character, aged 18, escapes from the compound with two other people, a white man and a black woman. They trek north in search of a place to get a job and settle; the main character invents a religion, a pastiche of Buddhism and Taoism, and preaches it to her trekmates. They are joined by a mixed-race couple with a baby, two prostitutes who escaped from a bordello and killed the pimp, who was their father, and a 57-year-old black man, who becomes the main character's lover. The man rescues a 3-year-old boy whose mother was murdered by gangsters; the boy is adopted by one of the prostitutes; they are joined by a woman who escaped from a job in slavery-like conditions with her small daughter. Through the trek, they confront robbers, who murder one of the prostitutes, and kill a few of them. At last they come to the 57-year-old man's sister's farm, only to discover that she and her children have been murdered months ago. The group tells the police, buries the bones, and settles there. There is a sequel about the group's life on the farm, but I don't feel like reading it. I only read this novel because it was assigned to my stepson by his 11th-grade English teacher, an African American woman who belongs to a writers' circle that celebrates racial authenticity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Olivia the Prophet
Olivia Butler is a prophet! The refugee columns will be headed north on I-5 in a couple of years.

1-0 out of 5 stars Utterly depressing
I have read many sad books and novels with depressing themes, but I have never read anything so terribly upsetting as this book.There is nothing positive or happy in the entire novel- NOTHING.The action described is so horrific, I actually had a nightmare about what I read.I hated this novel more than anything I've ever read.I can't think of one good thing about it and I'm typically a very fair person.I would never recommend it to anyone and I just wish I hadn't wasted my money on it!

2-0 out of 5 stars Pure in concept, fractured in execution
Pros: This book was very realistic about how our decadent and misguided society could end - gradually and brutally. It helped to inform me about resources we have here in California that have gone unnoticed or unused for a long time. A few of the characters were extraordinarily drawn, and the hints of exciting new cultural trends slipped in among the everyday tales of survival and stark reality.

Cons: As stark as the world was, it did not have a lot to contrast with it. Like 1984, most of the world was bad or worse, and there was very little to offset it. Further, the story is told initially by a 14-year-old, and the narrative matures with its fictional writer. While this is a pretty cool device, it really makes the first 150 pages sound like an overblown prologue to the real story that is about as long. The characters in this prologue are the more potent ones, and those die without a rewarding climax or real culmination of their destinies save for one. That sort of senseless loss would be a great setup for a heroic saga, but it's far more bland than could be believed. The characters begin to stack up until many are difficult to distinguish as anything noteworthy. The whole thing ends with a whimper, with a group of desperate and ill-defined characters clinging to one another with an accepted fatalist outlook. Its hard to get into the main character, as she seems to reinvent herself, as someone coming of age does, too often to figure what is going on. There are also symbolic religious items that are glossed over quickly, and most readers would miss them for what they are, too subtle for a struggle of this magnitude.

Conclusion: It seems like such a great idea, and there are setups for intense conflict and some heroism or villainy to ensue. However, it is too humble and too realistic in its portrayal. All is confusion and chaos, and the nature of things is never revealed. While this is pure in concept, it makes for troublesome storytelling. This is not like other books, but it still does not charm the reader with its naked sincerity. In many ways, it resembles the book that it takes its name from.I think I should like to read something else by this author and see if her other experiments came out better.

3-0 out of 5 stars Intriguing precursor to "The Road" but no match for McCarthy's vision
Post-apocalyptic literary scenarios have been a dime a dozen since well before Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and these days it takes something quite remarkable - like Cormack McCarthy's sublime The Road - to raise even a flicker of interest in this genre from all but the dullest sci-fi fanboy. Octavia Butler's essay on the same theme is now getting on for 20 years old, and stands up well - indeed, it so closely anticipates McCarthy's novel that you have to wonder whether he was aware of it. That is not to suggest plagiarism, however, for the similarities are general indeed: an un-described catastrophe has caused the total breakdown of society and forced a family unit on the road, where they fend for themselves against allcomers in vain hope of a promised land.

While Butler employs a couple of nice devices - the P.K.Dick-eque hyperempathy condition is a neat literary device - much better in fact than the hokey "Earthseed" concept which gets unwarranted prominence in the story - but Butler doesn't do nearly enough with it to make it worthwhile. In other aspects, the novel is a little flat. There's not a much in the way of a plot arc - it's more linear: things sort of episodically muddle along to a fairly uninvolving conclusion - and nor do the characters get well fleshed out or developed. Like her protagonist Lauren, Butler throws quite a lot of "seed" about which then appears to fall on stony ground: Lauren's father disappears, presumed dead but unresolved - to no effect. Likewise, Lauren's original sweetheart is introduced, developed, and disposed with for no discernible plot-functional reason.

My hunch is that Butler was more interested in developing a quasi-religion than writing a science fiction novel, yet 20 years later, the post-apocalyptic road story is the only part that really holds up. But, all the same, it pales in comparison with Cormack McCarthy's bleaker, more eloquent visualisation, and ultimately I couldn't recommend this novel over, or even really as a complement to, The Road.

Olly Buxton ... Read more

8. Bloodchild and Other Stories: Second Edition
by Octavia E. Butler
Paperback: 224 Pages (2005-10-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1583226982
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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“An outstanding short story collection . . . [Butler] is an impressive writer whose work displays how science fiction readily transcends the perceived stylistic limitations of the genre.”—St. Petersburg Times

Bloodchild is a compelling and horrifying novella . . . [by an] exceptionally talented writer.”—Publishers Weekly

“The title story is justly famous . . . splendid pieces, set forth in calm, lucid prose with never a word wasted.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Butler graces new mansions of thought with her eloquent, distinguished, and poignant prose. Although this book is little in size, its ideas and aims are splendidly large.”—Booklist

This New York Times Notable Book of the Year includes the Hugo and Nebula awards-winner Bloodchild and the Hugo Award-winner Speech Sounds.

Octavia E. Butler is the author of 11 novels, including Kindred, Dawn, and Parable of the Sower. Recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and numerous other literary awards, she has been acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations that range from the distant past to the far future.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Must Read for SciFi lovers!
"Bloodchild" is a short book of short stories. Each story is completely its own. Octavia Butler describes in the prologue how she hated writing short stories. Yet, I find these to be very well written, and thought provoking. After each story is a page or so from the author detailing why she wrote the story and describing the themes contained within.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ms Butler's Short Stories!
Some years ago I've read for the first time a book from Ms Butler. I was captivated by her amazing imagination and quality of her prose and became instantly a fan of the author. This first impression was corroborated as I read more of her writings.
Unfortunately for us, her fans, Ms. Butler has recently passed leaving the "Parable" trilogy unfinished and I'm sure many delightful stories unwritten.

She was highly talented writer and win Sci-Fi Hugo and Nebula awards.
All her books showed a rich mixture of imagination, complex and interesting characters and conflictive situations to test their mettle.

Here the reader is presented with Octavia's short stories. She proves to be as good as with her novels, even if she states she is not a "short story writer".
There are five tales and two essays.
The essays provide good hints for "would be writers".

The multi-awarded "Bloodchild" is a typically Butler's product.
She explores in depth, in a quite short text, the intricacies of symbiosis between human and alien specie.
I think that from this story, Octavia has derived her amazing trilogy "Xenogenesis". Both stories refer to symbiosis and how this affects human mind producing very different attitudes from rejection to uncensored adhesion.

The other remarkable tale is "Speech Sounds" that shows a post apocalyptic world where humanity is deprived of speech or the ability of read and write.
She focuses on the strain survivors suffer to adapt to these conditions. The inner suffering and the will to survive are shown without respite.

"The Evening and the Morning and the Night" reflects the anguish endured by a woman that knows she will be devastated by a new disease.

This book is a very good introduction to Ms. Butler's universe.

Reviewed by Max Yofre.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another treat for fans
I'm a huge fan of Octavia Butler and I was pleasantly surprised that she had a series of short stories that I wasn't aware of until recently. Once again she explores various social issues through the lenses of science fiction. What's so great about these short stories is that all of them could have easily been made into another great novel. Needless to say Ms. Butler is no longer around to share her brilliant imagination and perspective on the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible Writer
Octavia Butler is the best sci fi writer I've ever read.Better than Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, et al."Bloodchild" was the first piece I read by her.Got me hooked.Take a read and you'll be hooked, too.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not One Word Wasted
"What good is science fiction to Black people?" If you have ever wondered this, or if you've ever thought that the future was limited to shiny, cybernetic miracles, you need to read Bloodchild and Other Stories. A collection of five short stories and two wonderfully spare essays on the art of writing, this book serves as a fine introduction to the works of Octavia Butler.

Butler's novels have won the most prestigious awards in the science fiction world, even though they often deal with questions of race and culture that have not always captured the attention of science fiction writers, or the interest of science fiction readers. Her protagonists are frequently strong Black women - think Celie by way of Ellen Ripley. The stories in this volume include everything from synthetic diseases that rob people of their basic humanity to the subtleties of interpersonal relations in difficult circumstances. The title story is an SF exploration of the relationship between two unequal species that stands as a mind-bending discourse on slavery and human bondage. There are no laser swords or starships here - only a series of meditations on the possibilities of being human. ... Read more

9. Parable of the Talents
by Octavia E. Butler
Paperback: 424 Pages (2000-01-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$8.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446675784
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Lauren Olamina's love is divided among her young daughter, her community, and the revelation that led Lauren to found a new faith that teaches "God Is Change". But in the wake of environmental and economic chaos, the U.S. government turns a blind eye to violent bigots who consider the mere existence of a black female leader a threat. And soon Lauren must either sacrifice her child and her followers -- or forsake the religion that can transform human destiny.Amazon.com Review
Octavia Butler tackles the creation of a new religion, the making of a god,and the ultimate fate of humanity in her Earthseed series, which began withParable of theSower, and now continues with Parable of the Talents. Thesaga began with the near-future dystopian tale of Sower, in whichyoung Lauren Olamina began to realize her destiny as a leader of peopledispossessed and destroyed by the crumbling of society. The basic principlesof Lauren's faith, Earthseed, were contained in a collection of deceptivelysimple proverbs that Lauren used to recruit followers. She teaches that"God is change" and that humanity's ultimate destiny is among the stars.

In Parable of the Talents, the seeds of change that Lauren planted begin to bearfruit, but in unpredictable and brutal ways. Her small community isdestroyed, her child is kidnapped, and she is imprisoned by sadisticzealots. She must find a way to escape and begin again, without family orfriends. Her single-mindedness in teaching Earthseed may be her only chanceto survive, but paradoxically, may cause the ultimate estrangement of herbeloved daughter. Parable of the Talents is told from both mother'sand daughter's perspectives, but it is the narrative of Lauren's growndaughter, who has seen her mother made into a deity of sorts, that is themost compelling. Butler's writing is simple and elegant, and herstorytelling skills are superb, as usual. Fans will be eagerly awaiting thenext installment in what promises to be a moving and adventurous saga.--Therese Littleton ... Read more

Customer Reviews (62)

4-0 out of 5 stars Tough To Read, but Well Worth It
I'm a big Octavia Butler fan, and consider her one of the most original and necessary SF writers of the past thirty or forty years. This novel, which really should be read after "Parable of the Sower" for maximum benefit, is nonetheless a hard book to get through in many ways. Without spoiling any specific details of the plot, let me simply say that it's a very upsetting story on a number of levels. Not hopeless -- while often unflinchingly grim, Butler doesn't write about people with no hope, but about pragmatic survivors -- but definitely bleak, as in Cormac-McCarthy-saying-whoa-lady-that's-a-bit-dark-isn't-it bleak.

Nonetheless, as a chronicle of the challenges would-be prophets and their fledgling religions face during hard times, or simply as a cautionary object lesson in the ways entrenched elites move to protect their power, "Talents" is probably exactly as cruelly honest as it needs to be. I heard Butler speak once, and she commented that in her opinion the problem with human beings is that we're both intelligent and driven by a hierarchical mentality -- but that hierarchy was a much, much older trait. I've been turning that insight over in my head for seven years now, and it remains one of the more useful things I've ever heard someone say.

If that idea provokes you too, and if you want to read a story exploring whether or not human beings can bring intelligence to bear without letting the struggle for dominance corrupt its fruits, then "Parable of the Talents" will challenge and engage you. I recommend it strongly, but not for days when you're already feeling depressed or misanthropic.

(Finally, it's also worth bearing in mind that Butler apparently had a third book in this sequence planned before she died, "Parable of the Trickster," and that "Talents"'s darkness may well stem from the fact that, while a complete narrative in its own right, it was intended as the second act in a three-act story structure.)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Experience
Awesome transaction. Book came fast and in perfect condition. Can't wait to finish reading it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Utterly brilliant and equally harsh
Octavia Butler's book is Part II of Parable Of The Sower.While the first hundred or so pages seem a bit difficult to get through lacking story and motivation, it is a necessary primer and like writers of old, Octavia believes in setting the table first before serving the meal.The meal itself is an utter and shocking page turner.Octavia is a master at creating misery without sounding miserable and pathetic.There is a definite reflection of the US of today.She changes names and augments situations but in many ways, this is an exaggerated U.S. of 2007.
The situation between Lauren and her daughter will lead to an utterly devastating and bone crushing conclusion.I can safely say in reading it, I had to stop, cry, and sit by myself trying to absorb what I have just seen.This is utter tragedy and tore my insides in two.It was that hard to read and imagine but it was an integral commentary about Christianity and belief systems in general.Octavia's message was driving it down to a personal level and it worked.
I would call this one of the greatest books I ever read and would recommend it to anyone.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of favorite novels - a masterpiece
This book is the continuation of Lauren Olamina's life story, picking up where Parable of the Sowers left off. It has much to say about how one transcends trauma, about what compels human beings to make the choices they do when the range of choices gets narrower and narrower. The reader becomes engrossed in Lauren's survival and what that means to other important characters. Most importantly, the reader is challenged to explore the various ways people choose to cope with destructive forces beyond their control.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Miss Octavia Butler / Love this Book!
The late Octavia Butler is recognized as one of the world's most respected female sci-fi writers, and her book Parable of the Sower (1998) and Parable of the Talents (2000) helped her achieve this status.

Both of these books have to be read to get the full story of Lauren Olamina, the books' African-American heroine. Butler, who loved writing apocalyptic type fiction (books focusing on what happens after the world is nearly destroyed) begins Lauren's story in Parable of the Sower. It is the year 2024 and people (namely Americans) have finally decided to go ahead and half-way destroy the world, resulting in America being reduced to the world's "lower power." Our treasured dollar is now worth pennies, our system of government has collapsed, most American citizens live in poverty, and more than half are homeless. As one would guess, many people go crazy during this time. Besides being concerned about not starving to death or dying from the flu, people also have to worry about being burned alive by stoned druggies or killed for their shoes.

Lauren, nearing puberty, lives in this world with her father, three brothers and stepmother in a walled community in California. As a result of her mother taking drugs, Lauren suffers from hyperempathy, a syndrome that causes her to feel other's pain--real or fake.But that seems to be her only weakness. She is exceptionally intelligent, creative, and strong-willed. Though a preacher's kid, her questions about God and how He could allow this kind of chaos to exist, turn her into an "unbeliever." She walks away from Christianity to create and embrace a philosophy she calls "Earthseed." This philosophy teaches that "God is Change," as change is the only thing constant in the world. The philosophy is humanistic in that is calls for total responsibility of individuals to shape their lives as they work with God--as God is change. For example, an Earthseed verse in the book is: God is Change, God is Infinite, Irresistible, Inexorable, Indifferent, God is Trickster, Teacher, Chaos, Clay--God is Change; Beware: God exists to shape and be shaped.

Beyond preaching just this, Lauren also believed that humankind's ultimate destiny was to settle other planets--no heaven, no hell.
This concept of God may seem weird to many people, and very heathenistic to the religious. When I first read Lauren's idea of God and humankind's purpose I was slightly put off. But in those days and times the world seemed to be coming to a total end. It seems fathomable that a "religion" that calls for total belief in one's self and the hope of escaping earth could be founded and gain followers. After all, religion's main purpose is to give our lives meaning.

After becoming confident that "Earthseed" could help give people renewed hope and purpose, Lauren began to plan how she could reach people. She hoped to one day leave her walled community to do this.However, she was forced out of her community while in her teens, as druggies stormed into her neighborhood, set fires to the houses, and raped, mutilated and killed most of inhabitants. Lauren escaped somehow, and found only two of her neighbors (an older man and woman) that had also managed to escape. She had already lost her father and oldest brother in childhood to druggies, and the rest of her family had been killed in the attack.
Nearly fugitives, the trio set out on the highway to find another community, work where they could get it, or possibly to Canada or Alaska. They faced being robbed, raped, forced into slavery, or murdered while on their journey. As they traveled, Lauren began telling them about Earthseed, as she did with everyone who eventually joined their band--as people liked to travel in large numbers to avoid being robbed. She soon found several other empaths, as well as a man as old as her father that she fell in love with. He had a large piece of land, and although he did not believe in Earthseed, he agreed to let her set up a community to teach this philosophy/religion. The book ends with her trying to build and maintain this community.

Parable of the Sower is one of the most thought-provoking fiction books I have read.
Embracing the Real World (The Black Woman's Guide to Life After College) ... Read more

10. Lilith's Brood
by Octavia E. Butler
Paperback: 752 Pages (2000-06-01)
list price: US$18.99 -- used & new: US$7.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002NSLMYA
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The acclaimed trilogy that comprises LILITH'S BROOD is multiple Hugo and Nebula award-winner Octavia E. Butler at her best. Presented for the first time in one volume, with an introduction by Joan Slonczewski, Ph.D., LILITH'S BROOD is a profoundly evocative, sensual -- and disturbing -- epic of human transformation.

Lilith Iyapo is in the Andes, mourning the death of her family, when war destroys Earth. Centuries later, she is resurrected -- by miraculously powerful unearthly beings, the Oankali. Driven by an irresistible need to heal others, the Oankali are rescuing our dying planet by merging genetically with mankind. But Lilith and all humanity must now share the world with uncanny, unimaginably alien creatures: their own children. This is their story... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (45)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic trilogy in beautiful omnibus
Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy has been collected and released in this new omnibus edition as "Lilith's Brood" (named after the matriarch of the new race).The three books, "Dawn," "Adulthood Rites," and "Imago," are so intertwined they read like one book anyway, and the larger size is better for more comfortable reading.Because, you'll be unable to put the book down once you start!Butler writes compelling science fiction rooted in social values and examination of modern society.Though she features women of color as her protagonists, you never feel as though this is written just for people of color. The diversity is welcome, and realistic.Her writing is complex, fully fleshed out and engrossing. I cared about the characters, was sometimes disturbed by the story, and completely sucked into her world. I have enjoyed many of her books, but these are still my favorite.

Mankind brought itself to the edge of extinction with nuclear holocaust.It is at this moment that the Oankali, an alien race, decide to make contact to "help" us.When Lilith Iyapo is "awakened," she finds that she has been chosen to revive her fellow humans in small groups & train them to survive in the wilderness that earth has become. But the aliens cannot help humanity without altering it forever.Our salvation may also be our utter destruction as a species.What does it truly mean to be human?

Though this is science fiction, it reaches a much broader audience.My mother, who does not read scifi at all, enjoyed the trilogy (in fact, all of Butler's work) as much as I did.I cannot recommend this series, and this author, enough.

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved it!Believable and Frightening
I loved this book. Rarely do I say that. I don't have a critique, except to say that I hope their are 25 more novels to come from this fascinating imaginary earth future.(Since writing this, I've discovered the author is dead!oh well.)

Butler has managed to create a world of alien beings that are at once incredibly bizarre, unlike anything I've seen in science fiction, but at the same time totally believable. The reader is taken on a journey along with the characters as humanity is introduced to, frightened by, skeptical of, curious about, attracted to, grateful to, and ultimately understanding of these aliens for the imperfection that they as living beings carry as much as we do... arrogance.

This collection of three novels was a wonderful, absorbing, arousing and believable work of fiction. I am now totally fascinated by this author and plan to read everything she has written.

5-0 out of 5 stars Still great--still biting social commentary.
My favorite author, the late Octavia Butler, wrote this trilogy decades ago, as you know. Yet, the books are still fascinating, creepy, and compelling. This great African American author of science fiction was far ahead of her time. If you're looking for high tech, science driven stuff, look elsewhere. Butler focused on the social impact of humans confronted with apocalypse, change, and the Other.

When the voracious Oankali invade Earth to "save" humanity from itself, they are nearly too late. Humans, with their inherent genetic flaws of conflicting intelligence and brute hierarchial drives, have already decimated Earth's population with a nuclear war. What I really like about Butler is her lack of very specific details--about the war, about the aliens' purpose--nicely reflects how baffled REAL people would be when great events take place in their lives. Humans are hurt and baffled by the war, yet those who remain are determined to survive. The alien invaders are gentle but determined to interbreed with humans and create a new race. Their drive to mingle genetics is as powerful as the human hierarchial drive. Yet, the Oankali see our drive as a flaw, and their drive as destiny.

Excellent ideas and powerful insights into characters both human and alien.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
I've wanted to write a review of this book for quite some time now and am finally glad that I have an opportunity to do so.

Written by the acclaimed Science Fiction author - and my very favorite one - Lilith's Brood was a treat! Octavia Butler has a beautiful writing style. Her prose is so brilliant and subtle that you don't realize that she's giving very important details to both the characters and the scenery as you go along. The book, Lilith's Brood, is actually a trilogy of novels: "Dawn," "Adulthood Rites," and "Imago." The story begins with Lilith, a new Eve in a way, the mother of "new" humankind. The twist is that aliens have saved the world from total destruction and from extinction since war has all but killed our species. Too, the destruction has left all man infertile. The only way that he can procreate is by mating with fertile aliens who produce half-human, half-alien super humans.

Themes were important but very slight. In other words, Octavia didn't push her own views on people too much, although there were very clear ideals supported, like bisexuality, loyalty, and self-sacrifice. Often as I read the series, I asked myself if I would be willing to give up some measure of my own humanity to live longer, have healthier children, or a stronger, more durable physique. Some of her ideals were quite repulsive, however. I have read several of Butler's novels and have found that a common theme is incest. For example, in the last novel of Lilith's Brood, "Imago," there were people who were special (not too much of a spoiler here :)), and they were all related but having sex with their brother, their mother, their father, in order to have children. This theme is quite sickening and almost made me stop reading the book altogether when I first read of it. I recall too that the author tried to make her reader less repulsed by the idea by stating that in Biblical times families practiced incest. In every novel that I've read of Octavia's, and even in every short story anthology, she always mentions incest in an `acceptable' way or at least in a way that she tries to paint as acceptable. That is beginning to be more and more of a turnoff for me when it comes to reading her books.

Other than that, it was an amazing read and I am now on the second group of novels by Octavia Butler called Seed to Harvest. When I complete this one, I'll be writing a review about it too. Good reading everyone!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars My introduction to Ms. Butler
Much different, and much better than I expected. I received this as a birthday gift last year, and it sat on the shelf since then.Once I read it was about "aliens" I was totally uninterested, even though it was recommended to me by a good friend.

I finally did tackle it - and tackle it is the right word.It's not a quick or a light read, and there were parts of it (the aliens' philosophy, breeding practices, etc.) that were just beyond my scope.All in all, though, it was very good.Very deep and well thought out, and the world Ms. Butler creates is believable. ... Read more

11. Imago (Book Three of the Xenogenesis Series)
by Octavia E. Butler
Mass Market Paperback: 224 Pages (1997-04-01)
list price: US$16.99 -- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446603635
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The conclusion of the Xenogenesis trilogy chronicles the life of Jodahs, the offspring of human parents and an alien whose mission is to function as a gene trader in a human world increasingly hostile to aliens. Reissue.Amazon.com Review
This conclusion to the Xenogenesis series (Dawn and Adulthood Rights)focuses on Jodahs, the child of a union between humans, alien Oankali,and the sexless ooloi. The Oankali and ooloi are part of anextraterrestrial species that saved humanity from nuclear oblivion,but many humans feel the price for their help is too high: the Oankaliand ooloi intend to genetically merge with humanity, creating a newspecies at the expense of the old. Even though the Oankalihave--against their better judgment--created a human colony on Mars sothat humanity as a species can continue unaltered, many human"resisters" either have not heard of the Mars colony or don't believethe Oankali will allow them to live there.Jodahs, who was thought tobe a male but who is actually maturing into the first ooloi from ahuman/Oankali union, finds a pair of resisters who prove that somepure humans are still fertile. These humans may be his only hope tofind successful mates, but they have been raised to revile and despisehis species above all else. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fitting Conclusion
Jodahs is a young Human-Oankali construct.One of Lilith Iyapo's many children with both Human and Oankali mates.Jodahs is the first of its kind, a Human-Oankali construct ooloi...the sexless version of the Oankali that is able to heal others, facilitate the melding of genetic information from others to produce offspring, and is the storehouse for all of the Oankali's vast biological knowledge.

Because Jodahs is the first ooloi of its kind, his Oankali brethren are unsure how to respond...there were not supposed to be ooloi constructs for quite some time.But, Jodahs manages to find his way in an often hostile world, finding mates of his own, and helping others to do the same.

Imago is a fitting end to a superlative trilogy.Besides being a well-construed tale of human-alien interaction, Imago (and, indeed, the entire trilogy) is also a character study in gender roles.What does it mean to be male?Female?Butler's character Jodahs blends both male and female traits as an ooloi...aggressive when it needs to be, but often nurturing and deeply caring of others as well.Butler has a lot to say about what it means to be not only Human, but also man or woman.

The only real peeve I have with the story is that, like the previous Adulthood Rites, and unlike the first tale in the trilogy, Dawn, Imago (and Adulthood Rites) at times merely loosely hangs on to the reader where Dawn grabbed you and reading was compulsory.In short, the pacing could have been better at some points.

Nonetheless, Imago is highly recommended as the culmination to a beautifully drawn trilogy.These books are more than worth picking up.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not for the Faint of Heart
The complexities of Oankali sexuality are fully revealed as Butler introduces Jodhas, the first construct ooloi. Butler addresses unanswered questions such as why Lilith never left Nikanj, how ooloi get and keep mates - some that don't want them, etc. In addition, human sexuality is brought to the fore with the construct ooloi-human relationships and taboos such as incest are touched upon. That Butler is able to introduce these topics without causing her readers to cringe is a testament to her storytelling ability.

Readers receive snippets about the Mars colony and human emigration. Butler also allows her readers to truly feel what ooloi's experience when they need a mate. She does a wonderful job of retelling the story of a construct's life on Earth (previously told in Book 2) while still keeping the story fresh, exciting, and interesting.Jodahs is introduced as his metamorphosis begins and, as the first construct ooloi, we are taken with him as he discovers his ooloi and construct abilities. Jodahs is a captivating character and, as we are pulled along on his journey, we cannot help but care about the outcome for him.The only issue I had with this final book is the series was:

1. There was no follow-up on Akin and the Mars colony.Akin was such a well-crafted character that I wanted to follow him to Mars to see how he fared. The way this book was written makes Book 2 seem incomplete.

Overall, it is a good story and I would recommend it.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
More inbreeding issues.

A third novel in this series that is basically the same quality as the one preceding it, and adds little more to what is going on, or more of the same.Aliens remove breeding, then want to hybridise and cross-breed, and it turns out they may need some human breeding after all.DOH.

Or, aliens can be stupid and make scientific mistakes when conquering, too.

2 out of 5

5-0 out of 5 stars Memorable Conclusion To Butler's "Xenogensis" Series
In the aftermath of a devestating nuclear conflict which has left Planet Earth radioactively poisoned, the surviving remnant of humanity must contend with the arrival of the alien Oankali. In her "Xenogenesis" series Octavia Butler wove a most fascinating saga on the nature of humanity, exploring the interactions between human survivors and the Oankali, and, in so doing, providing some insightful literary commentary on the racial and sexual issues which are still divisive among many Americans. "Imago" is a memorable, rather absorbing, character study of Jodahs, the hybrid human/Oankali shapeshifter who is capable of giving miracle cures to injured and diseased humans by his personal touch. But also latent within Jodahs' chromosomes are some unique genetic secrets which may portend humanity's - and Oankali's - future in the solar system. Butler concludes the "Xenogenesis" series on a triumphant, optimistic note in this fine early novel of hers, which many would regard as a classic of not just American science fiction literature, but perhaps too of feminist and Afro-American literature.

4-0 out of 5 stars the third gender, another Xenogenesis novel about identity
Imago is the concluding volume in Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy and one thing that should be apparent by the time the readers gets more than a handful of pages into Imago is that Octavia Butler has written a trilogy in the more classic sense of the term.Butler's trilogy is a collection of three novels which tell otherwise complete stories that while they expand on the previous novel, each novel does not depend on the other to stand.Octavia Butler's trilogy is three stand alone novels telling three stories related in theme and setting and that builds an overall story arc as well as three smaller story arcs.

Imago is the story of Jodahs, the latest Oankali / human hybrid child of Lilith Iyapo.An interesting thing about the Oankali child is that as a child their gender is not set, so depending on the stimulation and experiences given to the child, the child may develop into a male, female, or ooloi (a third gender).Up until this point no construct (hybrid) children have been permitted to develop into ooloi because the Oankali have had concerns about how they would develop and it was only recently that male hybrids were permitted to develop.Jodahs, of course, develops into an ooloi hybrid rather than the male he, or it, was intended to be.

The story of Jodahs is one of isolation and dependence and the reader gets to experience the anxiety Jodahs feels and experiences from his community (an ooloi always needs to find a new home because of sensory differences with those in the home it was raised in).

We are now at least several decades, perhaps longer, from the events of Dawn and Adulthood Rites so Butler reveals some of how the Earth has developed and how the Oankali / human project has progressed.We learn that the Mars colony that was proposed in Adulthood Rites is a success and giving humanity the only chance to survive unchanged.

Imago is written with a strong sense of character and Butler describes the alien culture in such a way that it feels authentic and the hybrids in a way that we can see why some humans would never accept them, but also why others have accepted the Oankali.

As always, Imago and the Xenogenesis trilogy is an examination about race, differences, fear, prejudice, the future, and identity.As always, Octavia Butler does an excellent job with her storytelling.And, as is the case with the two previous Xenogenesis novels, Imago is a very strong work of fiction but somehow less outstanding than some of her other work.

-Joe Sherry ... Read more

12. Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler: Slaves, Aliens, and Vampires
by Gregory Jerome Hampton
Hardcover: 200 Pages (2010-11-16)
list price: US$60.00 -- used & new: US$40.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0739137875
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Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler: Slaves, Aliens, and Vampires is a timely texts that critically situates Butler's fiction in several fields of study including American, African-American, gender, and science fiction studies. This books attempts to avoid excluding as many readers as possible by evading esoteric jargon while still engaging the interdisciplinary discourses that respond to Butler's fiction. The study asserts that Butler's fiction transforms the way the body is imagined with reference to race and gender. This text examines how Butler's fiction is able to cross several genre boundaries while simultaneously reshaping the genre of science fiction. This book makes the claim thatButler's fiction is crucial for contemporary and future investigations of identity formation. Discussions of race, class, and sex are reoccurring topic that are inextricable to any understanding of body politics and theory. This book is filled with exciting and insightful discussions thatraise questions about what constitutes humanity in Butler's fiction and in the real world. Ultimately, the purpose of the text is to add to the scholarship surrounding Butler and to bring her to the attention of audiences that might otherwise overlook her work.This book is an invitation for readers inside and outside of the academy to discover the fiction of Octavia Butler. ... Read more

13. Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis, Book Two)
by Octavia E. Butler
Mass Market Paperback: 304 Pages (1997-04-01)
list price: US$18.99 -- used & new: US$14.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446603783
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The second in a critically acclaimed trilogy follows the life of Akin, the son of the heroine of Dawn, who struggles to cope with the isolation of being neither human nor alien. Reissue.Amazon.com Review
In this sequel to Dawn, Lilith Iyapohas given birth to what looks like a normal human boy named Akin. ButAkin actually has five parents: a male and female human, a male andfemale Oankali, and a sexless Ooloi. The Oankali and Ooloi are part ofan alien race that rescued humanity from a devastating nuclear war,but the price they exact is a high one--the aliens are compelled togenetically merge their species with other races, drastically alteringboth in the process. On a rehabilitated Earth, this "new"race is emerging through human/Oankali/Ooloi mating, but there arealso "pure" humans who choose to resist the aliens and thesalvation they offer.These resisters are sterilized by the Ooloi sothat they cannot reproduce the genetic defect that drives humanity todestroy itself, but otherwise they are left alone (unless they becomeviolent). When the resisters kidnap young Akin, the Oankali choose toleave the child with his captors, for he--the most &quothuman" ofthe Oankali children--will decide whether the resisters should begiven back their fertility and freedom, even though they will onlydestroy themselves again. This is the second volume in OctaviaButler's Xenogenesis series, a powerful tale of alien existence. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

4-0 out of 5 stars Engaging Sequel
The second installation in the Xenogenesis series introduces Akin, Lilith's son and a human-born male construct (Oankali-Human mix). In this book Butler takes readers back to the new Earth and shows the changes made, and provides a glimpse into how the Oankali-Human union fares. There are now three groups on Earth: Oankali (consisting of the aliens and their human mates), Constructs (the Oankali-Human children), and Resisters (sterile humans that have refused the Oankali gene trade). Butler takes the time to reveal more information about the Human-Oankali bond and the readers are shown what happens to humans that refuse the trade. Gabe and Tate reappear in this novel and we get a peek into the lives of resister humans.

Through the eyes of Akin, Butler shares the emotional upheaval experienced by the resisters as a result of their circumstances. Being a sympathetic construct (the reasons for Akin's sympathetic viewpoint cannot be revealed without spoilers), Akin tries to give humans another option besides sterility and Oankali mates even though they are continuing to self-destruct.

Butler still gives a lot of attention to sexuality in this novel and many unanswered questions about Lilith are finally answered. This is an excellent sequel, but the few issues I had were:

1. Many of the resisters were too simple-minded. Humans are complex creatures, but many characters, such as Neci and her crew, Akin's abductors, etc., were so simple that they often ignored the obvious.This is particularly evident in Neci's dealins with the two Oankali girls.
2. Typos and editing issues.
3. I felt that this book left a lot of questions about Akin unanswered. Did he find mates? Who went with him to help with the solution he found for mankind? How does it work out? What happened when everyone returned to Lo?
4. The Oankali are thorough but not infallible, it seems like they could/should have missed sterilizing a couple of humans somewhere.

These and many other questions were not answered, but overall it is a good book. Akin is a wonderful character and I hope to learn more about him within this series.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Long Road to Maturity
Akin (Ah-keen) is a human-born construct...a mixture of both Human and Oankali genetic material.He, and others like him, are the first steps toward what the Oankali have promised, toward what the Oankali have exacted after they saved the remains of Humanity from the utter obliteration of nuclear holocaust:the melding of both sentient species.

Akin has a long road ahead of him.He must not only come to grips with who he is, he must also, somehow, determine how to coexist with the multiple factions of both Humanity as well as Oankali.

Adulthood Rites is another well written tale by Butler.However, where the previous novel, Dawn, gripped you and did not let go, this novel merely loosely hangs on.I kept wanting more about Lilith (who was the primary character in Dawn) and her connection to Akin, who is, after all, her son and the future of what both Humanity and Oankali will be.However, the tale does provide a well-drawn narrative of Akin's exploits, and how he relates and interrelates with not only his Human brethren, but his Oankali people as well.

Overall, while Adulthood Rites does not quite stand up to its predecessor in sheer magnitude of story, it is ultimately a well-written novel and I look forward to closing out the Human/Oankali saga sometime soon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Butler sequel, slavery / tri-gender themes
Happening upon a sentient species in the throes of self-destruction, the wise and beneficient Ounkali have imposed a genetic "trade" upon humanity "for their own good."In this impressive sequel to "Dawn" Butler continues her exploration of the theme of benevolent enslavement within the context of human subjection to a unilaterally imposed choice between tri-sexuality and species subversion, or extended youth and sterility.

Even more than the original novel, this story told from the point of view of Lilith's son, Akin, reveals the underlying self-centered hedonism upon which Ounkali paternalism is founded.Perhaps it takes an Ounkali to see them as they really are - and a human understanding to grasp the extent of the damage that their smugness and condescension have wreaked upon the remnant of humankind, whether resistor or "trader."

The irony of a restored Earth where individual choice is illusory, since humanity's destruction is assured and each survivor's physical being is literally the eternal property of an alien will, is given greater depth by what Akin learns - not only humanity but the Earth itself will be cast aside like trash when the Ounkali have extracted from it all that they desire.

Even without this knowledge, Lilith and other accomodators ("traders") must live with and manage bitterness and grief as best they can, for the sake of family and children.One senses that it is not the five-way trisexual matings or their hybrid children they resent, but the fact that sterility is their only other option.Loving their Ounkali kin, and not daring to acknowledge their condition, they nonetheless hate their enslavement.

If "intelligent hierarchicalism" is indeed the fatal flaw of humanity (doubtful), the fatal flaw of the Ounkali is their unquestioning presumption of superiority.They do not listen, and so they cannot learn.

Come to think of it, that's the true fatal flaw of humankind as well.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
Hybrid helper?

Part of the problem with these books I think is the what would seem to be extremely unlikely acceptance so quickly of what the aliens are up to.Overwhelming technological advantage, sure, but given general human atittudes the suspension of disbelief required for this book was basically shattered pretty early.

After that, it is really dull.There is some resistance to the complete changing of the race, and the main character has a kid that may actually help reconcile the rebels.

4-0 out of 5 stars science fiction exploration of identity
Now I know why the three volume Xenogenesis series was collected in a single volume titled Lilith's Brood. Adulthood Rites is the second entry of three in Xenogenesis and the focus has shifted from Lilith Iyapo to her part human / part Oankali son, Akin. In Dawn we were introduced to an Earth that had all but been destroyed by humanity before the remnants of humanity were rescued by the alien race Oankali. The Oankali survive and adapt by finding new species and civilizations to "Trade" with. In the rescue of humanity, the Oankali will Trade with humans and help humanity repopulate the newly restored Earth. But at a cost. Humanity will no longer be what it once was because a Trade involves both parties giving up something and receiving something in return. Humanity will get another step on the evolutionary scale but will be far more and less than what they once were. Lilith Iyapo was chosen by the Oankali to seed the first colony and awake the remnant from their slumber and teach them to accept the Oankali. In many ways she failed with that first group she was given, but by the end of Dawn Lilith was to found her first community while those who would not accept what had occurred were isolated and left sterile. Breeding could only happen with the permission of the Oankali. At the very end Dawn we learn that Lilith was pregnant.

When Adulthood Rites opens, the story is focused on Akin, one of Lilith's hybrid children and her first son. Because he is part Oankali, Akin is aware in the womb and if he were fully human one would consider him unnaturally precocious. As it stands he is not fully human, though as an infant he looks human enough (except for his tongue). The focus of Adulthood Rites remains squarely on Akin with brief flashes of events surrounding Lilith, but only to a point. I would suggest that 95% of the story follows Akin as he grows and as he is kidnapped by raiders who seek to have children the only way they can, which is by theft. This theft, or kidnapping, of Akin is the event that drives how the rest of the story will play as it shapes Akin into something different than he might otherwise have been had he been left to bond with his siblings.

A major theme of Butler's work here seems to be of the nature of identity. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be different? What does it mean to have an identity in a particular culture and embrace that of another? Or be embraced by another? Butler's fiction, in particular the Xenogenesis trilogy, addresses these issues in such a way that it fits a science fiction story with aliens and tentacles, but it is really a story that addresses what can go on in our society as well. There is a depth here once one looks beyond the surface of an interesting story. Make no mistake, Adulthood Rites is an interesting story.

With all of that said about what the novel is about and what it is talking about, I do need to confess that like Dawn, I found Adulthood Rites to be less engaging and gripping than some of Butler's other fiction. In particular Kindred and the two Parable novels seem to me to be stronger works of fiction than Xenogenesis. What does that mean for the casual reader? Not much. Adulthood Rites would only be considered a "lesser" work of fiction when it is being compared to Butler's own work. Otherwise, I would suggest that Adulthood Rites (and Dawn before it) is a creative look at science fiction and how actually meeting an alien race could and would change humanity irrevocably. To be blunt, Butler tells a damn good story and keeps taking that damn good story in directions that were not necessarily apparent when the story began. She keeps it interesting and she keeps it authentic (as authentic as aliens changing the genetics of humans could be, but it feels real, and that's important).

Bottom Line: Octavia Butler need to be read by more people. She was a top shelf talent with a powerful creative voice and Adulthood Rites is a good novel that suffers only, only in comparison to her own work. In comparison to others, she stands tall.

-Joe Sherry ... Read more

14. Clay's Ark
by Octavia E. Butler
Mass Market Paperback: 224 Pages (1996-12-01)
list price: US$16.99 -- used & new: US$2.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446603708
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Asa Elias Doyle and her companions encounter an alien life form so destructive that they exile themselves to the desert to avoid contaminating others, but their compulsion to infect others is overwhelming and, in a desperate plea for help, kidnap a doctor and his two daughters. Reprint. PW. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars Vestiges of humanity in the California desert
The last book to be published in the Patternist series (republished as "Seed to Harvest"), "Clay's Ark" chronicles the beginnings of the primitivist race of mutants that haunt and hunt the "civilized" Patternists who dominate "Patternmaster," Butler's first novel. So, while "Wild Seed" and "Mind of My Mind" explain the evolution of the Patternists, this chapter seeks to tell the "other" side of the story: how a different group of humans who had been infected by an alien disease mutated into a murderous and infectious species exhibiting feline grace and brute instinct. In some ways, the series is Butler's version of H. G. Wells's pitting of Eloi against Morlocks, updated to include telepathy, viral mutation, and other sci-fi obsessions of recent decades.

This summary explains how the book fits in the series, but the truth is that "Clay's Ark" stands on its own; there are no Patternists in "Clay's Ark" and you don't need to know anything about the other books before reading it. This is the story of how one family--a father and his two daughters--are captured and held hostage for mysterious reasons by a cult of semi-violent outlaws, who initially seem to be passive-aggressive psychopaths hiding out in the anarchic California desert of the near future and who have the outwardly uncontrollable urge to smell and touch, scratch and bite their victims. The first half of the book, with its hints of incest and the threat of cannibalism and rape, is more like a horror story, vaguely reminiscent of "The Hills Have Eyes," which was in turn inspired by the legend of the Sawney Bean clan.

Alternating between the family's imprisonment in the "present" and the beginnings of the cult in the past, Butler sets her isolated society on a larger moral stage than these grisly antecedents might suggest. We soon realize that the members of this "cult" are survivors of an often-lethal extraterrestrial organism, and it's a constant battle between the "decent" (human) impulses of the community members and the survivalist (animal) instincts of the virus--a virus that make suicide "impossible" by embellishing its victims with an "unconscious will to survive that transcended any conscious desire, any guilt, any duty to those who had once been fellow humans." Yet vestiges of humanity remain, and the infected group has deliberately shut itself off from society to avoid spreading the epidemic; nobody leaves "the ranch, except to bring in supplies and converts"--the latter simply to satiate the minimal evolutionary demands of the virus. The problem for the future, however, is their offspring...

All of this doesn't keep Blake Maslin and his daughters from trying to escape, even after they begin to show symptoms--first from Stockholm syndrome, then of the disease itself. What's startling is how Butler tests your allegiances--if you root for Blake and his family to get away, then you are no better than their kidnappers, since their escape will mean the infection (and demise) of all of human civilization. Who are the real heroes here, Butler asks. Given this impossible set of circumstances, what is altruism? What drives us to be "human"? But don't let me mislead you: all the pondering over what it means to be civilized or selfless or human doesn't get in the way of a taut and grisly adventure.

5-0 out of 5 stars Clay's Ark by Octavia Butler
If you have come across this book, it probably means that you are a fan of Octavia Butler's. This book is good and its worth reading. I have found out that its not necessary to read all of the PaternMaster books (4) in their order. It truly makes no difference because the books are so well written; each story stands on its own. My only complaint is that I wish there were more books written by her!

4-0 out of 5 stars a fitting conclusion to the Patternist sequence
Clay's Ark is fittingly the final volume in Octavia Butler's Patternist series. While in the chronological order Clay's Ark would be third, its proper place in the reading order is that of the publication order: fifth. Some may find it preferable to read the Patternist novels chronologically, but this would be something of a mistake.

Patternmaster, the first published and last in the timeline, sets up our world as it will be in thousands of years. Technology has all but disappeared and there are telepaths ruling from households and controlling mutes, those humans without telepathic power. A third group are the clayarks, disease-ridden once humans who are disgustingly deformed and are feared and hunted. This brings us to Mind of My Mind where we see a world not too different than the one in which we now live, only the telepaths are only just beginning to take control. Next is the forgettable and all but disowned by Butler Survivor. The clayark disease has ravaged the Earth and one last group is permitted to settle a different planet. It ties into the Patternist world, but only from a tangent. Wild Seed gives us the origins of Doro, he who had the breeding program to develop the telepaths.

This brings us to the final novel in the Patternist sequence: Clay's Ark. Now, if we had not read Patternmaster we would have no idea what the clayarks are to become or what what the significance of the title Clay's Ark actually is. The title itself rewards readers of the series while it sets of warning bells about the content of the novel. If we are reading in publication order we know that the clayarks came from some sort of extra terrestrial virus / entity and that they overran the land. We know that something bad is coming and that this novel is likely to show us how it happened.

Clay's Ark tells two stories: Past and Present. Past features an initially unnamed man who is human, but is struggling against some alien nature. He came from a space ship which crashed back on Earth after being gone for years. The ship: Clay's Ark. The unnamed man has heightened senses which most humans never use and he feels an urgency to be near other humans, to touch them, to scratch them...to infect them. He knows it is wrong, he knows that it would be very, very bad, but the disease he has leaves him no choice.

Present tells a different story. A man (Dr. Blake Maslin) is driving across the southern California desert with his two daughters (the leukemia stricken Keira, and Rane) when they are all kidnapped while at a rest stop during a sandstorm. They are not killed, raped, ransomed, robbed, or tortured. They are brought to an isolated farm and forced to stay while Eli, the nominal leader of a gang of sickly looking men and women with super strength, explains about the disease they all share and why they had to take the Maslins. One guess as to what the disease is.

Clay's Ark is a bleak, brutal novel filled with tension and danger. Octavia Butler is doing nothing more than telling us a story in which the world is a dangerous place and about to get worse. Clay's Ark is a harrowing novel and except for several chapters at the farm, it feels like everyone is on the move trying to escape from something...from the disease, from the not yet named clayarks, from the regular humans who are just about as bad as the disease Eli's group carries. There is very little joy in Clay's Ark, but Butler's storytelling is such that we don't want to look away. Clay's Ark is one of the stronger novels in the Patternist sequence (up there with Mind of My Mind and Wild Seed). Clay's Ark is perhaps the perfect way to wrap up the Patternist sequence. As with all of of Butler's novels we are left with questions as to what happens after the last page, but Butler has filled in as much of this world as needs to be.

While only one of Butler's early novels (Kindred) holds up to her later work, the Patternist sequence is comprised of five reasonably short (200 page) novels which at their best are quite entertaining. Octavia Butler is an author not to be missed.

-Joe Sherry

4-0 out of 5 stars Host to Millions
This might be the most suspenseful of the several novels I've read from Octavia Butler, but it comes up a little short on some of her key strengths. Granted, Butler's supremely unique imagination is still at play here, in the story of a space crew that comes back to Earth with an alien virus that uses human carriers like mere conduits for relentlessly propagating itself. Another mindbendingly creative concept from Butler, but unfortunately this novel comes out rather sour and ugly in the execution. The dysfunctional near-future society that is Butler's usual motif simply becomes a depressing mess here, with no redeeming humanity. We get almost uniformly violent and pitiless characters (except for the circle of protagonists) and a depressing, disturbing parade of human misery. Thus, the dystopian aspects of this tale are missing the elements that make similar settings so compelling in Butler's better novels – such as the African mythology backdrop to "Wild Seed" or the philosophical optimism of "Parable of the Sower." There is also a structural problem with this book, in that Butler alternates chapter-by-chapter between flashbacks and events in the present, and neither of these running narratives are told completely in chronological order. This is a non-linear technique that some writers have used successfully to reinforce their themes or the suspense of the story, but here it just slows down the effectiveness of Butler's ideas. I still enthusiastically recommend the works of Octavia Butler for all fans of thought-provoking and emotionally compelling speculative fiction, but this book doesn't quite stack up with her best. [~doomsdayer520~]

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Butler's Best
I was so enthralled by "Dawn" and the subsequent books in that trilogy that I set out to read everything I could by Butler.Overall I find her novels to be exceptional sci-fi with some very thought provoking anthropology and history thrown into the mix.I was disappointed in Clay's Ark, and I think it was primarily because, compared to Butler's other novels, it was the leanest.While she comments on the bleak direction the future of the U.S. is headed in, this tale did not stay with me or terrify me the way the "Parable" books did.I didn't feel as attached to these characters as I did to their parallel counterparts in the Patternmaster.It's an interesting story, but not Butler at her best.If you're as obsesseive as I am about my favorite authors, read it anyway!If you're new to Butler, start with Parable of the Sower or Dawn. ... Read more

15. Survivor
by Octavia E. Butler
Paperback: 187 Pages (1979-05-01)
list price: US$1.75
Isbn: 0451086732
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars Consistently good writing
So I finally finished the patternmaster series.Not really a series, as there's no big finale but all the books are linked.I have heard that Butler didn't like this book and didn't want it to be printed again.I'm not sure why.

The only problem I had with it was the changing narrator.She went from 1st person with a human, to 1st person with an alien, and then to 3rd person.It was a bit jarring at times.Sometimes she would label the chapter with the narrators name but then she would change to 3rd person with just a couple lines of space.

As with her other books, this is sturdy work, well written and harsh.No hi-tech gadgets but some pretty cool aliens with a fully developed culture that reminded me of -Speaker for the Dead- in their alien-ness. The difference is that she writes shorter stories so her characters aren't as well developed as Card.So I like her stuff but it hasn't blown me away yet.Maybe the Xenogenisis trilogy will, I'm going to try to read that later this year.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Butler Book I liked Best
I read this book several years ago and loved it so much that I bought it again when I misplaced the first copy.I can't believe the current price.

This book was straightforward and easier to read and understand than the other books I read by Ms. Butler. It was definitely worth reading!

5-0 out of 5 stars Butler's Best
It seems mrs Butler regrets that this book ever found its way into print. I guess I can understand this as "Survivor" is a much more straightforward and action-directed story than the rest of her work.Nevertheless I found this to be mrs Butler's most readable book. It hasplenty of depth and lacks the bitterness that apparently always is presentin her other work, and alway seems to be on the verge of spoiling it.

"Survivor" should definitely be reprinted!

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Story, But Not Ms. Butler's Best
Ms. Butler has said that she's sorry this book was ever released.She knows what she's doing.This is a great story for any other SF writer.But it's mediocre coming from Ms. Butler.It's more shallow than her otherstuff.Since it was out-of-print, I thought it would be the only story ofhers that I would never read.I felt tortured until I found a library witha copy.I feel better now.But if you can't find one, don't tortureyourself wishing you could.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bring this book back in print!
Please Ms. Butler!I'm sure the publishers would jump at the chance.How about a limited edition release?People (like myself) are scavenging for any copy they can find,paying upwards of a hundred bucks just to get aworn out old copy of this book! ... Read more

16. Conversations with Octavia Butler (Literary Conversations Series)
Hardcover: 288 Pages (2010-03-15)
list price: US$50.00 -- used & new: US$40.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 160473275X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Octavia Butler (1947-2006) spent the majority of her prolific career as the only major black female author of science fiction. Winner of both the Nebula and Hugo Awards as well as a MacArthur "genius" grant, the first for a science fiction writer, Butler created worlds that challenged notions of race, sex, gender, and humanity. Whether in the postapocalyptic future of the Parable stories, in the human inability to assimilate change and difference in the Xenogenesis books, or in the destructive sense of superiority in the Patternist series, Butler held up a mirror, reflecting what is beautiful, corrupt, worthwhile, and damning about the world we inhabit.

In interviews ranging from 1980 until just before her sudden death in 2006, Conversations with Octavia Butler reveals a writer very much aware of herself as the "rare bird" of science fiction even as she shows frustration with the constant question,"How does it feel to be the only one?" Whether discussing humanity's biological imperatives or the difference between science fiction and fantasy or the plight of the working poor in America, Butler emerges in these interviews as funny, intelligent, complicated, and intensely original. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars An "intimate" look at one of my favorite authors
I say intimate in quotation marks, because Ms. Butler was intensely private, but you can find small tidbits here. You can read a little about the fire that burned her grandmother's house down, her mother's off-hand remark that she could be a writer which stuck in her head, when her mother tore up her comic books...I am loving this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Still thrilling me
This is a great oppurtunity to get a first hand look at Ms. Butler.Her evolutionay growth, was very interesting. She is my all time favorite author. I was impressed with her world views and her reflection of her self. This is the kind of person I would have enjoyed spending a whole day with. I seriously felt pain in my soul when I heard this wonderfull human had passed on.Gone to soon.

ONE ... Read more

17. Octavia E. Butler: 'Xenogenesis' / 'Lilith's Brood' (Genre Fiction Sightlines)
by John Lennard
Kindle Edition: Pages (2010-07-09)
list price: US$8.00
Asin: B003VIWURO
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Octavia Butler’s premature and sudden death in 2006 has been very widely lamented, unhappily confirming her influence as a vital African-American and female pioneer in Science Fiction.

Xenogenesis (retitled Lilith’s Brood in 2000) is one of Butler’s most important works, and comprises the novels Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988), and Imago (1989). The Notes cover Octavia Butler’s life and work; the background and structure of the trilogy; (Black) SF in relation to race and gender; the tradition of dystopias; and the work in genetics that is central to the plot. The Annotations pay special attention to the feminist and racial critique of human behaviour, and to the scientific and religious themes that develop throughout the trilogy. Each of the three novels is dealt with book-by-book and chapter-by-chapter. An Essay, called ‘The Strange Determination of Octavia Butler’, considers the trilogy’s two very different umbrella-titles and Butler’s unusual use of genetic science, especially the discovery of mitochondrial DNA, to critique racial essentialism. It also argues for her use of cellular organelles as an metaphor for the African Diaspora driven by slavery. The Bibliography provides a complete listing of works by Octavia Butler, including short stories and work published on-line. It also has sections detailing works about ‘Octavia Butler and SF’ and ‘Useful Reference Works’.

John Lennard has taught in the Universities of London, Cambridge, Notre Dame, for the Open University and at the University of the West Indies—Mona. His publications include But I Digress: The Exploitation of Parentheses in English Printed Verse (Clarendon Press, 1991), The Poetry Handbook (1996; 2/e, OUP, 2005), with Mary Luckhurst The Drama Hand¬book (OUP, 2002), Of Modern Dragons and other essays on Genre Fiction (2007) and Of Sex and faerie; further essays in Genre Fiction (2010).
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Comment by the author
I'm sorry of course that Catriona was disappointed, but the book doesn't pretend to be anything it isn't, and samples are avilable both here at the Kindle Store and for the PDF version (available from Humanities-Ebooks). The Cliff's Notes comparison is a little unfair - so far as I know there isn't one for Butler's trilogy, and that series neither annotates nor includes any original work, whereas I do both - but right enough in essence. Catriona doesn't say what age students she is teaching, nor at what level, but the book began with my own teaching of Butler, and incorporates what I found my own undergraduate students to need, and to be stimulated into further thought by.

If you want 'advanced' (which usually means theoretically minded) literary criticism of Butler, this isn't it ; there is some, mostly in article form, so you'll need to search JSTOR or an equivalent database, and unless you have institutional access buying any articles will probably cost you quite a lot ($18+ per article isn't unusual). But if you want something that provides some context for Butler and her remarkable trilogy ; that glosses unusual words, literary and real-world references, and specific ideas or philosophies mentioned in the text ; that annotates the development of major themes through the trilogy ; and that offers an original essay on the trilogy as a whole with a bibliography for any follow-up you want to do, all for less than $10, then this will be exactly what you're looking for.

The original essay, btw, is on Butler and (genetic) determinism, taking the Oankali organelle as explicitly and overtly modelled on the mitochondrion, and reflecting on the importance of mitochondrial DNA to African Americans. I'm not aware of anything else written on Butler that tackles the same issues.

2-0 out of 5 stars Xenogenesis for Dummies
First, this is not the Butler collection, variously published as Xenogenesis, Lilith's Brood, or the three separate volumes Dawn/Adulthood Rites/Imago. Lennard's discussion of Butler's masterwork is not a sophisticated academic study. It's more like the Cliff's Notes to the books. I expected something more advanced than what I'm already producing for my own students: this isn't it. You'd be better off having advanced undergraduates develop their own glossary, rather than using Lennard's. The Kindle format doesn't include clickable links for the chapters, headings, so it's not very convenient to navigate. ... Read more

18. Kindred [KINDRED ANNIV/E 25/E]
by Octavia E.(Author) Butler
 Paperback: Pages (2004-02-28)
-- used & new: US$9.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0029PQY0Y
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars We are all Kindred!
Some time ago I've read for the first time a book from Ms Butler. I was immediately captivated by her amazing imagination and the quality of her prose and became instantly a fan of the author. This first impression was corroborated as I read more of her writings.
Unfortunately for us, her fans, Ms. Butler has recently passed leaving the "Parable" trilogy unfinished and I'm sure many delightful stories unwritten.

All her books showed a rich combination of imagination, complex and interesting characters launched into conflictive situations to test their mettle.

In "Kindred" the story is presented in a sci-fi framework, in order to give an entry point to a world distant more than a hundred years from us, but the substance is about getting in touch with slavery.
This poignant account unearths the relationships between slave-owners and slaves, drawing a huge fresco of that society.

Dana, an Afro-American woman, is drawn time and again to the past with the specific mission of saving Rufus' life, the son of a slave-owner and his heir. Each time Dana is transported backward, the drama increases. Poignant and vivid scenes are shown, reaching deep into the reader's sensibility, but with an earnest and straightforward approach.
You can't elude perceiving the "reality" of the world shown in this amazing book.

After reading it, I keep wondering about what kind of strange compulsion make a human being to despise another one based on racial, religious or even political or social differences, without perceiving that we are all kindred to each one.

This is great book for sci-fi buffs and general public too.

Reviewed by Max Yofre
... Read more

19. Xenogenesis Dawn Adulthood Rites Imago
by Octavia E Butler
 Hardcover: Pages

Asin: B000X1AVFK
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I've Ever Read
...and that's saying something. This was my introduction to Octavia Butler and what an introduction. This edition was the collection of three novella's previously released by Butler (Dawn, Adulthood Rites and Imago) and I believe this chronological collection is exactly how those books should be read--as one continuing novel. The collection tells the story of the salvation of mankind after it nearly destroys itself in a nuclear war. But that salvation comes at a price that may mean the extinction of the human race as we know it to make way for something new. I think Dawn, the first section, is the strongest of the three but that's like saying which of these three masterpieces is more beautiful? I pick this book up again and again over the years and never grow tired of it. It has been re-released under the title "Lilith's Brood" but the cover art for Xenogenesis is by far the more telling. This book is how science fiction should be done. In this Butler schools them all.

5-0 out of 5 stars Xenogenesis from the dustjacket
In a world devastated by nuclear war with humanity on the edge of extinction, aliens finally make contact. They rescue those humans they can, keeping most survivors in suspended animation while the aliens begin the slow process of rehabilitating the planet. When Lilith Iyapo is "awakened, " she finds that she has been chosen to revive her fellow humans in small groups by first preparing them to meet the utterly terrifying aliens, then training them to survive on the wilderness that the planet has become. But the aliens cannot help humanity without altering it forever. Bonded to the aliens in ways no human has ever known, Lilith tries to fight them even as her own species comes to fear and loathe her. A stunning story of invasion and alien contact by one of science fiction's finest writers. Ingram Known for her African-American feminist perspective, the author presents the first installment of a trilogy exploring the death of the earth as we know it and the advent of interbreeding between humans and extraterrestrials. ----In this sequel to Dawn, Lilith Iyapo has given birth to what looks like a normal human boy named Akin. But Akin actually has five parents: a male and female human, a male and female Oankali, and a sexless Ooloi. The Oankali and Ooloi are part of an alien race that rescued humanity from a devastating nuclear war, but the price they exact is a high one--the aliens are compelled to genetically merge their species with other races, drastically altering both in the process. On a rehabilitated Earth, this "new" race is emerging through human/Oankali/Ooloi mating, but there are also "pure" humans who choose to resist the aliens and the salvation they offer. ... Read more

20. Patternmaster
by Octavia E. Butler
Mass Market Paperback: 208 Pages (1995-05-01)
list price: US$6.50 -- used & new: US$24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446362816
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A telepathic race is ruled by the strong mind of the Patternmaster, but his ruthless son craves the ultimate power of the position and has murdered everyone who stands in his way except a final victim--his younger brother. Reprint. PW. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars Clash of the brother-titans
Although "Patternmaster" is Octavia Butler's debut novel, it would become the last entry in the Patternist series--and it's also the least. That's not to say it's a bad novel--it's actually head and shoulders above many other examples of what might be called "post-apocalyptic dystopian mutant society fiction." The world she creates is original and, at first, confusing--particularly if, like her earliest readers, you haven't read the other novels first. But Butler hasn't quite shaken off the formulae of sci-fi storytelling, and the plot itself is somewhat pedestrian and the finale is unsurprising and inevitable.

Butler's enhancement on the basic idea behind "The Time Machine" is to create three strata of society rather than just two. (H. G. Wells would have probably been surprised that his novel about Morlocks and Eloi engendered not one, but two subgenres.) The Patternists are the dominant race, with telepathic powers that link one another via a network dominated by a Patternmaster. Mutes are the descendants of the powerless humans who exist outside the pattern, and the Patternists have enslaved them. A third group, Clayarks, are a mutant race descended from humans infected by an alien virus and they are the zombie-like beasts of the novel, unable to control their primary urge: to spread the virus that controls them. Needless to say, the world is a mess; the Patternists and their servants live in compounds, while the Clayarks roam the wilds between. (The other novels in the series describe more fully how these three species evolved.)

From there we have a classic Greek/biblical drama pitting two brothers against each other as they vie for their father's authority as Patternmaster. The older Coransee, power-hungry and manipulative, views his sibling, the relatively free-spirited Teray, as a threat to his plans of world domination--even though Teray seems just want little more than living a quiet life independent of his brother's power. That's the set-up, and the bulk of the novel concerns Teray's escape, Coransee's chase, and the inexorable battle between the two.

"Patternmaster" contains many of the social themes found in Butler's subsequent novels--how power corrupts, how civilizations create servants and slaves, how sexual politics infect communities like a virus--but they all play second fiddle to the titan-clash plot. In spite of its shortcomings, it's still a great adventure story informed by Butler's genius in character development and social observation. Only a handful of sci-fi writers have so effectively and eloquently dealt with the intersections of power and corruption, race and sex, family and friendships.

There is one scene early in the novel, however, that might linger in many readers' minds. When Teray wanders through a forest and stumbles upon a stray Clayark, there is a brief moment of empathy and communication between them, and the Patternist, almost regretfully, allows the mutant to escape. There is a hint here of a path not taken in Butler's story, and I wish she had developed this episode to introduce a wrinkle in her neatly ironed plot.

5-0 out of 5 stars octavia butler is brillant
I never cease to be amazed by octavia butler her writings are vivid and interesting. all her books are great quick reads I ahyave read several and have yet to be disapointed

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Conclusion
After reading Wild Seed, the first book in the series, I had to read Mind of Mind (Book 2) and finally, The Patternmaster. This book is the 3rd of a series and it makes much more sense if you read the previous two.

In The Patternmaster, Butler finishes the story of the Pattern which began in Mind of My Mind. I would NOT recommend this book if you have not read the previous two. Too many questions are unanswered, it would only be confusing.

I would recommend the first novel, "Wild Seed," followed by the second, "Mind of My Mind." "Clay's Ark" is a side novel, but it explains the origin of the Clayarks and part of the reason Earth is so messed up. If you read them prior to "The Patternmaster," things will be clearer.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Conclusion
After reading Wild Seed, the first book in the series, I had to read Mind of Mind (Book 2) and finally, The Patternmaster. This book is the 3rd of a series and it makes much more sense if you read the previous two.

In The Patternmaster, Butler finishes the story of the Pattern which began in Mind of My Mind. I would NOT recommend this book if you have not read the previous two. Too many questions are unanswered, it would only be confusing.

I would recommend the first novel, "Wild Seed," followed by the second, "Mind of My Mind." "Clay's Ark" is a side novel, but it explains the origin of the Clayarks and part of the reason Earth is so messed up. If you read them prior to "The Patternmaster," things will be clearer.

To Schwinghammer - The reason it seemed that she didn't tell you where the novel took place was because she'd already done so in the previous books. I think you'll find Wild Seed interesting and entertaining; Mind of My Mind is the set up for The Patternmaster.

4-0 out of 5 stars Still a Masterpiece
This is my least favorite of Butler's work just because telepathy isn't one of my favorite themes, but the book is stil a masterpiece and I would highly recommend it. ... Read more

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